NHS Publishes Data Following Junior Doctors Strike

Data on the recent industrial action by junior doctors can be found on the NHS England website here: NHS England » Industrial action in the NHS.

Since strikes began, the cumulative total of acute inpatient and outpatient appointments rescheduled is now 1,333,221.

Junior doctors and hospital dental trainees began their strike action on Wednesday 3 January at 7.00am and finished at 7.00am on Tuesday 9 January. Last week’s latest action saw 113,779 inpatient and outpatient appointments rescheduled, and 25,446 staff were absent from work due to strikes at the peak of the action (3 January).

NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “The longest strike in NHS history has led to unprecedented disruption for patients and their families, and while staff have planned extensively and worked tirelessly to keep patients safe, it comes once again with an enormous cost.

“That cost is clear in these figures – likely to be even higher in reality – with more than 113,000 appointments postponed at a time when services are already under huge pressure from rising flu and covid cases and we are seeing a huge demand for care.

“Medical leaders and frontline staff are telling us they are very concerned about the coming weeks as the cold weather bites and more people may need hospitalisation. This puts an incredible strain on staff who have been covering striking colleagues as we continue to navigate one of the most difficult times of year.

“Colleagues across the NHS will now be doing everything they can to make up for lost time as we continue to make progress on addressing the elective backlog and ensure patients get the care they need.”

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “These figures show the mountain the NHS has to climb in order to bring the backlog down, with high winter viruses and absence levels likely to delay any kind of recovery even further. These strikes also came during one of the busiest weeks of the year for NHS services, with trusts declaring critical incidents and calling for junior doctors to return to work. Only the extensive planning carried out by staff kept the show on the road, stopping services from buckling completely.

“The fallout from this wave of industrial action is likely to be felt for a long time. NHS leaders and their teams now face the challenge of rebooking over 100,000 of patients whose planned care was displaced.

“What is potentially more worrying is we do not know how many patients avoided coming forward for care due to the strikes and what kind of backlog this could create for already overstretched services. Now this brings the total of cancelled appointments and operations in the last year to over 1.3 million but we believe could be a significant underestimate because trusts have pre-emptively avoided making appointments during periods of industrial action, so the actual number of cancelled appointments could be double this.”